Seattle Times staff reporter Bob Condotta breaks down the Seahawks' roster heading into their season opener Sunday vs. visiting Miami.
A breakdown of the Seahawks’ season-opening roster:
With running back Marshawn Lynch retired, the offensive leader is quarterback Russell Wilson. That transition took hold at the midway point of last season when Lynch was hurt and the Seahawks went to more spread formations and empty-backfield sets, emphasizing quick passes to Doug Baldwin and Tyler Lockett.
Expect more of the same this season, with the Seahawks featuring possibly the best receiving corps of the Pete Carroll era, especially if tight end Jimmy Graham returns to full speed quickly.
The Seahawks, though, won’t abandon the running game, particularly with Thomas Rawls declared ready for the opening game and Christine Michael emerging as a dependable second option.
A rebuilt and largely young offensive line looms as the biggest question mark, especially the two tackle spots (Bradley Sowell on the left and Garry Gilliam/J’Marcus Webb on the right). But the guard and center spots were a pleasant surprise during the preseason and the spread formations — and Wilson’s ability to get rid of the ball quickly — should play to the strengths of the line.
The Seahawks’ defense has led the NFL in fewest points allowed for four consecutive seasons — a record in the Super Bowl era and tied for the most ever. And on paper there is little reason to expect a dropoff. Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril remain one of the NFL’s best end duos, Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright lead a solid linebacking corps, and the secondary remains as stout as any in the NFL, led by Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor, all with the team and healthy as the season begins, unlike a year ago.
Two areas to watch are the tackle spot, and will it be as steady as it was without veteran Brandon Mebane, and the boundary and nickel corner spots, manned by DeShawn Shead and Jeremy Lane.
Expect opponents to target those two, but also for the Seahawks to move Sherman around more to match up against specific receivers.
The return and kicking positions appear in good shape.
Tyler Lockett is back after a fabulous rookie season in which he returned both a punt and a kickoff for a touchdown. Punter Jon Ryan is back after signing a new three-year deal in the offseason, as is kicker Steven Hauschka.
The Seahawks released longtime long snapper Clint Gresham in March and replacement Nolan Frese had some erratic moments in the exhibition games, making that a position to watch.
Seattle’s coverage units have been solid, if not better, during the Pete Carroll era, and the Seahawks hope that continues to be the case.